The best thing I can say about 2016 is that it’s finally over. From the tragic loss of Princess Leia to the ascension of a real-life Jabba the Hutt to the presidency, there wasn’t much to smile about last year. But with the new year comes a sense of relief and, hopefully, a strong desire to leave behind the less savory aspects of the previous 365 days. Bearing that in mind, here are a few things that I’m hoping don’t follow us into 2017.
1. Blown 3–1 leads
It was kind of fun watching the Golden State Warriors choke away a playoff series to human locomotive LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was even more exhilarating watching the Chicago Cubs end sports’ most famous title drought with a similarly heroic recovery. But does anyone remember what the Vegas odds on Donald Trump winning the presidency were the morning of that cold Election Day in November? They were roughly 3-to-1; Hillary Clinton LAW ’73, much like the Warriors and the Cleveland Indians, blew a 3–1 lead. Instead of citywide championship parades in Cleveland and Chicago, however, we got the guy who took longer to denounce David Duke than he did to insult a civil rights legend on Twitter. Go figure.
2. National Football League commentators referring to clearly concussed players as “a little shaken up”
I know NFL commentators aren’t always known for being the most insightful speakers on the planet. Anyone who’s listened to Phil Simms talk for four straight hours can tell you that it’s a little bit like being lobotomized with a rusty spoon. But if I have to hear one more aging booth jockey say, “it looks like he took a bit of a dinger” after some gargantuan linebacker runs straight into a tight end’s head at 150 miles per hour, I’m going to lose it.
If I can hear the hit from my couch at home, your player probably isn’t banged up; he’s likely just suffered serious brain trauma. Unfortunately, the NFL takes concussions about as seriously as they take domestic violence. God forbid you get caught smoking a joint, though.
3. Southern football coaches invoking Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s memory to criticize black people for, maybe, not being super OK with racism
In 2016, Dabo Swinney, Clemson football head coach and newly minted national champion, decided to weigh in on this year’s Colin Kaepernick national anthem protest by saying things in this country were being painted with “a broad brush” and that some people needed to “move to another country.” Swinney followed up by referencing Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership and educating us all on his message and method of protest.
Swinney, it is fair to say, doesn’t know the first thing about King. What’s more, he also seems to lack any sense of irony given King’s rather famous comments on “the white moderate,” which fly directly in the face of the opinion that he invoked King’s memory to support. If you haven’t read Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail — as Swinney clearly hasn’t — stop reading my self-indulgent sports column and go do that instead. Dr. King is one of the greatest men in American history, and that letter will only become more important in the ideas that it expresses as our nation moves forward.
4. Sports columnists writing about politics and social justice
5. People saying really sexist stuff on television/in the news
I promise this one’s not just about Donald Trump. In fact, while I love being inundated with sports content and commentary, the male-dominated nature of most sports coverage leads to a lot of really sexist garbage journalism regarding female athletes. Take the Rio Olympics as an example. When trapshooter Corey Cogdell won a bronze medal for Team USA, the Chicago Tribune’s headline was “Wife of Bears’ lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics.”
Yes folks, Olympian Corey Cogdell’s most defining feature and life accomplishment is, apparently, being married to a Chicago Bear. In 2017, I hope that women stop having to explain why that headline isn’t OK. Also, our president-elect thinks that “grab ‘em by the p—y” is an alright thing to say. How much longer is this column? I need a drink.
All things considered, I think that we have a lot to work towards in 2017. Although our country sits on one of the most precarious political precipices in modern history, I am hoping that in 2017, love and togetherness trump selfishness and division. Sports, thankfully, provide us with an incredible source of not just entertainment but also bonding. So my greatest wish for 2017 is that all those people chanting, “Build that wall!” might sit down, shut up and watch a game or two with the folks they insist are so different from them. Proverbially speaking, in 2017 we don’t need a wall. We need a bridge.
Marc Cugnon is a senior in Calhoun College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .